I've spent the better part of my life battling depression. I didn't always know what to call how I felt, but I always knew something inside was a little off. Growing up, when my friends all saw green, I saw gray.
Laughter felt forced. Smiling felt like work. My insides felt empty.
I filled the emptiness with anything and everything that could take me out of myself. Instant gratification became my fix. It worked for a while, but like with any quick fix, I discovered the solutions to be only temporary. The world, once again, looked dark and I felt empty.
Something magical happened when I found out I was going to be a mom. When I felt that teeny tiny being fluttering inside of me. The emptiness that I had felt my whole life suddenly vanished. My life began to have meaning. I had a purpose. The world looked brighter, the flowers smelled sweeter, the sun felt warmer, and the air, which used to feel heavy, felt crisp and refreshing. I was happy.
I began to see the world differently. I started to notice the vibrant colors that were hidden behind the fog. I found joy in simply breathing and excitement in discovering a life that I had previously not known. A life and a heart, that was full.
Pregnancy had me convinced that my new found role as a mother would be a permanent fix to my depression. I now had someone else to live for. Someone who needed me. And I needed him.
Happiness was handed to me on a cool September morning, bundled up in a tightly swaddled blanket.
It came in the form of tiny fingers wrapped around mine. It came in the soft, peach fuzz hair and sweet, sleepy, milk drunk smiles. It came in the cooing and in the peaceful sound of a steady breath. Happiness came in the form of laughter, of baby babble, of clapping, and of pitter patter, as little feel scurried across my floor. Happiness came so easily, so naturally, so genuinely.
Happiness continued to come as two more sets of eyes gazed steadily at mine. The sound of three brothers playing together, laughing together, developing deep friendships that will forever last. Happiness lives in the heart of those boys, in their adventurous spirits and gentle souls. Happiness is the bond that I share with each one of them and the moments of connection that sweep me away. Happiness surrounds me every day, in every way.
But sometimes I forget that the happiness is there.
Sometimes the laughter just sounds like noise.
Sometimes the messes get overwhelming.
Sometimes the sweet sound of play is just loud and heavy.
Sometimes mommy life can feel monotonous. Sometimes I wake up and the world looks gray. Sometimes, amidst the noise and the chaos and the constant “mommy this” and “mommy that” I still feel empty. Some days I just want to hide.
My depression didn't disappear just because I had kids. The depression still comes in waves. But my kids have given me a new set of eyes to see life with. They help me to see the world differently. Days when life feels heavy, I have three precious smiles reminding me to get to work. I have three eager hearts reminding me to show up for myself so I can show up for them. I have three sets of bright eyes reminding me to see the good and to choose happiness.
Days when I forget how precious time is and how fast it flies by. Days when I forget that my kids are still young and still need me to play. Days when I feel the darkness creeping in, I am reminded that sometimes I need to look a little bit harder. Sometimes I need to listen a little bit closer. Sometimes I need to feel a little bit deeper.
The happiness is always there, if I choose to find it.
The laundry and dishes can wait but my kids can't.